Rooftop gardening shares a lot of similarities with traditional container gardening. At the same time, however, growing plants on a roof presents some unique challenges. The tips below should help you get the best results possible.
Getting permission before starting a rooftop garden is essential. Not only do you need approval from your landlord but you also need to verify that it is allowed by the building codes in your local area. Certain restrictions related to the height of the building, fire safety, or accessibility could interfere with your gardening plans.
Potted plants are extremely heavy – especially right after they have been watered. The weight of the plants continues to increase as they get larger. Before starting your garden, make sure that the roof is structurally sound enough to support the added weight. Ideally, you should consult with a structural engineer or another expert before proceeding.
This type of gardening takes a lot of supplies. Before you begin, you need to figure out how you will get those supplies to the roof. If you are an apartment dweller, you usually will need to ask for permission to use the stairs or elevator. Your city may also have special requirements regarding roof access, particularly in relation to the number of access points and access-related safety features.
If you don’t have a hose on the roof, you will either need to carry water in containers or collect it in a rain barrel. Look into alternative methods for watering the plants to make the process as easy as possible.
Roofs that are shaded by surrounding buildings may not have an adequate amount of sunlight for plants to grow. At the same time, roofs that are always in the sun may be too hot for plants to thrive. Choose plants that are appropriate for the amount of sunlight the roof receives.
Rooftops tend to become extremely hot during the day. The combination of sunlight and heat reflecting off of nearby surfaces can easily create an environment that is too hot for plants. Brainstorm ways to create shade for both the plants and yourself so you can enjoy the outdoor space.
Rooftops in urban settings can get quite windy. To minimize the impact of the wind, think about putting in a small wall or some type of fencing. Before doing any type of construction project, verify that it is allowed by local building codes. If it is also meant to function as a safety barrier, it definitely needs to meet the building code requirements for your area.
Most rooftop gardens are located in urban environments, which means that you have a lot of neighbors in nearby buildings. To make the space more private, consider planting a hedge, creating a vine-covered wall, or using an umbrella.
If you plan on using your garden after dark, consider running electricity to the space. That way, you don’t have to rely on candles after the sun goes down.
Gardening requires a lot of tools and equipment. Because most rooftops are quite small, you may need to get creative when it comes to storage. Consider installing shelving. Alternatively, you can look into small storage closets or benches with hidden storage.
Consider how much money you want to invest in your new garden. Usually, the best option is to begin with a simple garden and expand over time. The cost of your garden can quickly climb if you plan on doing any rooftop construction or hardscaping. Adding raised beds, installing stone or tile, and incorporating furniture and outdoor lighting into the space can all cost quite a bit. Depending on your situation, you also may need to spend extra money fortifying the structure so that it can support the weight of the garden.